Eine Person steht im Moor.
© Daniel Lenz
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Peatland Science Centre

The Peatland Science Centre researches the central questions surrounding the climate effectiveness of peatlands and their protection and utilization strategies. The research institution actively shapes the process towards climate neutrality in Bavaria and internationally in synergy with other resources such as biodiversity, water balance, and productivity.

PSC research facility: researching, protecting and developing peatlands

Logo des Peatland Science Centre.

Peatlands are among the world's most important carbon reservoirs due to their wet and thus anaerobic soil conditions. In recent years, the preservation of peatland soils has increasingly become a political focus. The Peatland Science Centre (PSC) of the HSWT, newly founded in 2022, will significantly improve the scientific basis for peatland development in southern Germany and internationally. With the PSC, regionally adapted solutions will be developed in cooperation with the relevant partners from science, specialist authorities, and implementation.

Eine Person steht im Moor.
© Daniel Lenz

SAVE THE DATE: international Peatland Science Conference (iPSC)

The Peatland Science Centre (PSC) invites you to the International Peatland Science Conference (iPSC): The conference will take place from 18/09 - 21/09/2024 at the Weihenstephan Campus of the University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf (HSWT) in Freising.

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Background Peatlands: The theme of the Peatland Science Centre

The formation of peatlands is based on an excess of water in the landscape, either as groundwater or rainwater. The bog-typical vegetation on the surface builds up biomass faster than it can be decomposed in the waterlogged soil. This causes the organic matter to accumulate and peat to form. This process has been going on in temperate and boreal latitudes since the last ice age. In a near-natural state, peatlands have continued to grow ever since.

Peatlands are equated here with the totality of organic soils, according to international definition (FAO, IPCC) and as defined in the reporting for the UNFCCC.

Peatlands are very special, water-dependent terrestrial ecosystems with a variety of functions:

  • Habitat function: they provide habitats for many specialists and thus rare and threatened animal and plant species. Peatlands are therefore a focal point for the protection and conservation of biodiversity.
  • Archive function: Due to the preservation of pollen in the anaerobic environment, they are an archive for climate and vegetation history.
  • Water regulation function: Peatlands can play a stabilizing role in the landscape water balance by attenuating runoff peaks and regional cooling via evaporation.
  • Regulating function of material balance: The growth of peatlands is accompanied by the incorporation of carbon. This results in the largest carbon reservoirs in the terrestrial biosphere per unit area, as well as in absolute terms at the global level. The amount of carbon stored in peatlands worldwide is estimated at 550 billion tonnes of carbon, equivalent to 30% of soil carbon on only 3% of the land area. Thus, peatlands play an important role in the global climate system.
  • Recreational function: In their near-natural state, peatlands are unique elements of the landscape that spark fascination and enthusiasm.
  • Production function: In Central Europe, peatlands are the last landscape elements to be cultivated, beginning around 1750. The prerequisite for their use was drainage for a wide variety of purposes: for peat extraction, agricultural or forestry use, water from the areas was diverted with ditches or drainages. If a peatland soil is drained, the above-mentioned functions are altered, and the fulfillment of these functions is jeopardized. This way, a drained peatland soil loses its ability to store carbon: The carbon once stored in it is now released primarily in the form of CO2. Thus, peatlands can change from carbon sinks to emission sources and thereby become drivers of climate change.
Ein naturnahes Moor aus der Vogelperspektive.
© Matthias Drösler

Fact Sheet: Peatlands in Bavaria

Die Mooremissionskarte für das Jahr 2020 basiert auf empirischen Treibhausgasmodellen und den Informationen aus TNLandnutzungs-Polygonen, verschnitten mit InVeKos Daten und der Flurabstandskarte 2020 der Technischen Universität München
Die Mooremissionskarte für das Jahr 2020 basiert auf empirischen Treibhausgasmodellen und den Informationen aus TNLandnutzungs-Polygonen, verschnitten mit InVeKos Daten und der Flurabstandskarte 2020 der Technischen Universität München. © Klatt, Schlaipfer, Drösler et al. in prep

With approximately 220,000 hectares of peatland soils, Bavaria ranks fifth among the federal states with rich peatland resources. Today, about 95% of these areas are drained and mostly used for agriculture or forestry. According to the latest results from the KliMoBay project, the tradition of classic drainage-based production on 95% of the land leads to emissions of about 6.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents annually. This corresponds to around 8% of Bavaria's total fossil fuel emissions.

Given Bavaria's climate neutrality targets for 2040, all avoidable emissions must be prevented in all sectors, and unavoidable emissions must be offset. This is only possible with the inclusion of peatlands: on the one hand as a source and on the other hand as a possible carbon store. The keyword "nature-based solutions" often comes up in this context.

The history of the PSC: from Kyoto to Weihenstephan

Zwei Hände zerlegen ein Boorprofil.
© Ella Papp

The Peatland Science Centre (PSC) traces its origins to research initiated 25 years ago by its director Prof. Dr. Matthias Drösler on the climate relevance of raised bogs on the edge of the Alps. The starting point was the Kyoto Climate Conference in 1997, where biological sinks were highly controversial as a measure for climate protection and were ultimately not approved. There was a lack of a solid knowledge base for assessing the climate protection potential of peatlands. This was, among other things, due to the fact that the measurement and modelling of climate-relevant trace gases in small-scale ecosystem types had not yet been methodically solved. The prerequisite for this was the development of a hood-based measurement method, which subsequently became the standard for recording the climate relevance of peatlands in the DACH countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland).

To date, more than 40 research projects with an international, national, and regional focus have been carried out, making a significant contribution to establishing the state of knowledge on the climate relevance of peatlands.

The PSC was financially supported for the start-up phase in 2022 with state funding from the government factions of the Committee for Science and the Arts in the Bavarian State Parliament. It was further developed from the chair for vegetation ecology at the University of applied sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf (HSWT) and the research chair for climate change and peatland ecosystems.

The PSC will significantly improve the scientific basis for peatland development in southern Germany and beyond and offer regional solutions. Climate protection needs scientifically sound solutions for renaturation, water level elevation, and paludiculture (agricultural use of wet or rewetted peatland soils) as well as the transfer of knowledge into practical implementation.

The aims of the Peatland Science Centre

Ein Bohlenweg durch ein Moor.
© Ella Papp
  • Further research and answering of central questions around ecosystem functions, especially climate effectiveness, water balance, biodiversity of peatlands, their protection, and wet use strategies (focus on paludiculture).
  • Supporting the process towards climate neutrality in Bavaria and internationally in synergy with other resources (biodiversity, water balance, and productivity)
  • Continuation of the institution and safeguarding of the peatland research station in the Freisinger Moos and the ICOS measuring sites in Schechenfilz and Mooseurach, because peatland protection is a permanent task, both in science and in implementation practice.
  • Expansion of knowledge transfer and university teaching in relation to the protection and wet use of peatlands

Tasks of the Peatland Science Centre

The basic concept of the PSC is based on the pillars of research & monitoring, teaching & training, policy advice & knowledge transfer. Project-based research in the field of climate relevance of peatlands will continue. The monitoring pillar enables the continued operation of the important long-term monitoring infrastructure of ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System) sites such as Schechenfilz or Mooseurach and the unique automatic measuring bonnet in the Freisinger Moos. The knowledge acquired from ongoing and past research projects is now to be increasingly incorporated into teaching and knowledge transfer within the framework of the PSC, thus accelerating and supporting the implementation of peatland conservation on a large scale.

The Peatland Science Centre (PSC) represents the current state of knowledge for climate protection through peatland conservation in synergy with other ecosystem functions mentioned above and is continuously developing it. Here, the standards for measurable, reportable, and verifiable (MRV) are set. Additionally, the PSC develops urgently needed, innovative, and practicable solutions for climate protection in peatlands, considering the specific starting point in Bavaria, southern Germany, and neighboring areas.

In the course of this, the Peatland Science Centre is dedicated to the following topics:

Research Projects

The Peatland Science Centre team

Das Team des Peatland Science Centre.
© Bianca Temme

The Peatland Science Centre (PSC) is located in the cross-faculty Institute of Ecology and Landscape (IÖL). Here, 14 professors work together in research on the topics of climate protection, biodiversity and environmental precaution. The PSC team covers the aforementioned fields of expertise in great breadth.

The team of the Peatland Science Centre

Direction

Lageplan der Gebäude A am Campus Weihenstephan.

Contact

Peatland Science Centre - PSC
Peatland Research Centre Weihenstephan

Institute of Ecology and Landscape
Building A1
Am Hofgarten 1
85354 Freising
GERMANY

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